FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Others who have been in rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard's situation endured a lost year. To his credit, that hasn't been the case with him.
When Dennard injured his hamstring on the second day of training camp, it set him back and opened up the possibility that he wouldn't be able to catch back up because things move that much faster in the NFL.
But in an impressive case of closing speed, the seventh-round draft choice out of Nebraska has emerged the last two weeks. He played 31 snaps against the Broncos and followed that up with 47 against the Seahawks, replacing starter Kyle Arrington on the third series of the game.
Dennard, whose coverage generally has been competitive for a much-maligned secondary, was one of a few players drawing a large media crowd on Tuesday. Part of the reason for the attention is that his emergence is a fresh story, and also that he appears to be pressing for more playing time.
After keeping mostly a low profile to this point, Dennard -- wearing a red Nebraska football T-shirt -- handled himself well. He talked about the need for defensive backs to make more plays on the ball, how he needs to sharpen his own technique in certain areas, and the importance of staying focused when a quarterback tries to "lull" them to sleep and then attempt a big passing play.
Dennard deflected talk of possibly becoming a starter before reflecting on the time he missed in training camp (he didn't play until the preseason finale), then being inactive for the first four games of the regular season.
"I missed out on a lot," he said. "The game speed. I had played in the preseason and it wasn't that fast. Me and [rookie] Chandler [Jones] talked and he said, 'Once the season starts, and once you get out there, it's a different speed.' It's a difference."
Dennard has made up the ground with impressive speed.